Document leaked by Edward Snowden shows agency sought out ‘vulnerabilities’ such as looking at explicit material online

 

 

NSA

The NSA is said to have targeted ‘radicalisers’ by collecting details that could undermine them, including online viewing habits. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

 

The NSA has been collecting details about the online sexual activity of prominent Islamist radicals in order to undermine them, according to a new Snowden document published by the Huffington Post.

The American surveillance agency targeted six unnamed “radicalisers”, none of whom is alleged to have been involved in terror plots.

One document argues that if the vulnerabilities they are accused of were to be exposed, this could lead to their devotion to the jihadist cause being brought into question, with a corresponding loss of authority.

As an example of vulnerabilities, it lists: “Viewing sexually explicit material online or using sexually persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”

The names of the six targeted individuals have been redacted. One is listed as having been imprisoned for inciting hatred against non-Muslims. Under vulnerabilities, the unnamed individual is listed as being involved in “online promiscuity” as well as possibly misdirecting donations.

Shawn Turner, press spokesman for the US director of national intelligence, in an email to the Huffington Post, said it was not surprising the US government “uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalise others to violence”.

 

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NSA ‘planned to discredit radicals over web-porn use’

 

NSA operation at Fort Meade, Maryland
The document highlights ways to embarrass six Muslim targets

 

 

The US authorities have studied online sexual activity and suggested exposing porn site visits as a way to discredit people who spread radical views, the Huffington Post news site has reported.

 

It published a document, leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, identifying two Muslims said to be vulnerable to accusations of “online promiscuity”.

 

An official said this was unsurprising.

 

But campaign group Privacy International called it “frightening”.

 

“Without discussing specific individuals, it should not be surprising that the US government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalise others to violence,” Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for National Intelligence, told the Huffington Post.

 

Privacy International said: “This is not the first time we’ve seen states use intimate and private information of an individual who holds views the government doesn’t agree with, and exploit this information to undermine an individual’s message.”

 

The report came shortly after a group of United Nations experts adopted a “right to privacy” resolution.

 

It will be passed by the UN’s General Assembly before the end of the year, but is largely symbolic since it is not legally binding.

 

The UN’s Human Rights Committee said it was “deeply concerned at the negative impact” the interception of data “including extraterritorial surveillance” could have “in particular when carried out on a mass scale”.

‘Young girls’

The latest of Mr Snowden’s leaked documents is dated October 2012 and says it was distributed by the office of the director of the NSA to other US government officials.

 

It names six Muslims whom it describes as “prominent, globally resonating foreign radicalisers” about whom surveillance efforts had revealed potential “vulnerabilities that can be exploited”.

 

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